Henley Rugby Football Club is a rugby union club based in Henley on Thames and is one of the leading clubs in the Thames Valley. The first team play in Level 4 of the English League System – National League Division Two (South). The club have teams operating within the Raging Bull League – Division 2, Berks Bucks & Oxon League 2 (North) and the Surrey Vets League.
The Women’s team play in Level 2 of the English League System - Women's Championship South.
The club has a very healthy Kids First and Junior Section offering rugby from U6 to U16 at the current time.
The club is developing teams to operate at U20 and U23 levels.
Henley RFC was founded in August 1930 as Old Henleiensians (old boys of Henley Grammar School). After a break during the war years the club was re-founded in 1954 and changed its name to Henley RFC in 1963. It has been based at Dry Leas since then.
In 1997 the 1st XV was named Henley Hawks.
When the leagues were started in 1987, Henley were placed in RFU South West II.
Henley’s fortunes stood still until Clive Woodward, England’s future World Cup winning manager, became the 1st XV coach in 1990. His introduction of the “flat ball” philosophy was a pioneering event for British rugby and brought promotion in 1992. Henley gained a further promotion in 1994 to the National Leagues and, after Woodward departed to coach London Irish, Henley continued to play fluid rugby and two further promotions ensued in the 1987-98 and 1998-99 seasons, landing the club in Allied Dunbar 2 (now the RFU Championship).
In 1999 Henley enjoyed a record run in the Tetley Bitter Cup defeating Allied Dunbar 1 club, Bedford in the fourth round before bowing out to Gloucester at Kingsholm in a keenly fought contest.
Henley finished ninth in Allied Dunbar 2 in 1999-00, seventh in 2000-01 but finished 13th in 2001-02 and were relegated to National League 1. Henley immediately returned to the Championship having finished as runners-up in 2002-03 season to Penzance & Newlyn (now Cornish Pirates) followed by a successful season in 2003-04 finishing in 7th place. Relegation back to National 1 followed in 2004-05 when finishing 13th .
Henley remained in National 1 until 2007-08 season when they were relegated to National League 2 (South). In 2012-13 season Henley were promoted as Champions of National League 2 (South) on 4 May 2013 defeating Worthing Raiders 55 -27 in from of a record National League 2 (South) crowd of 3,270 to National League 1.
Relegation back immediately to National League 2 (South) followed in 2013-14. However, promotion back to National League 1 was secured in 2014-15 only to be followed by relegation again back to National League 2 (South). The yo-yo years !!
Since 2016-17 Henley have continued at National League 2 (South).
1987-88 South West II
1988-89 South West II
1989-90 South West II
1990-91 South West II
1991-92 Courage South West 1 1st Champions
1992-93 South West II
1993-94 Courage South West 1 1st Champions
1994-95 National 5 South
1995-96 National League 2
1996-97 National League 2
1997-98 National League 2
1998-99 Jewson National League 1 1st Champions
1999-00 Allied Dunbar 2 9th
2000-01 Allied Dunbar 2 7th
2001-02 Allied Dunbar 2 13th Relegated
2002-03 National 1 2nd Runners-up
2003-04 Championship 11th
2004-05 Championship 13th Relegated
2005-06 National 1 12th
2006-07 National 1 3rd
2007-08 National 1 13th Relegated
2008-09 National 2 (South) 9th
2009-10 National 2 (South) 9th
2010-11 National 2 (South) 6th
2011-12 National 2 (South) 5th
2012-13 National 2 (South) 1st Champions
2013-14 National 1 14th Relegated
2014-15 National 2 (South) 1st Champions
2015-16 National 1 16th Relegated
2016-17 National 2 (South) 9th
2017-18 National 2 (South) 9th
2018-19 National 2 (South) 4th
Henley Hawks Women
1996-97 Championship South West (East)3
1997-98 Championship South West 2
1998-99 Championship South West 1
1999-00 Premiership 2
2000-01 Premiership 2
2008-09 Championship South
2009-10 Championship South West
2010-11 Championship South
2011-12 Championship South West
2012-13 Championship South West
2013-14 Championship South West
2014-15 Championship South
2015-16 Championship South
2016-17 Championship South
2017-18 Championship South
2018-19 Championship South
The ground is leased from the Town Council with the unexpired portion being nearly fifty years.
During 2001 the car parking, pitch pathways CCTV and perimeter fencing were implemented to meet Championship Rugby ground standards. Floodlighting to the main pitch was added in 2007 with support from Wasps.
During 2003 Dry Leas was one of the host venues for the IRB U20 Rugby World Cup.
In October 2004 Clive Woodward official opened the Tiger Turf training facilities at Dry Leas. These new facilities were funded by the RFU, Sport England, member and sponsor donations. Work is in progress to develop plans and raise funds to replace this during 2020.
In 2016 the clubhouse was completely refurbished and in 2017 new changing rooms, medical room, match officials changing room and club shop were added.
The current capacity is 4,000 including seating for 150.
1st Team - Henley Hawks
Oxfordshire RFU County Cup Winners (8): 1979, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
Courage South West 1 Champions (2): 1991-92, 1993-94
Jewson National League 1 Champions: 1998-99
National League 2 South Champions (2): 2012-13, 2014-15
2nd Team - Henley Bulls
Oxfordshire RFU County Cup Winners (3): 2001. 2003, 2005
3rd Team - Henley Vikings
Berks, Bucks & Oxon 1 South Champions: 2009-10
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Premier A Champions: 2010-11
Berks, Bucks & Oxon 2 Champions: 2016-17
4th Team - Henley Bears
Berks, Bucks & Oxon 3 Champions: 2016-17
Vets Team - Henley Vultures
Oxfordshire RFU Vets Cup Winners: 2013, 2016, 2018
Jersey 10’s Vets Winners 2016, 2018, 2019
1st XV Women - Henley Hawks Women
Championship South West (East) 3 Champions: 1996-97
Championship South West 2 Champions: 1997-98
Championship South West 1 Champions: 1998-99
Premiership 2 Champions: 1999-00
Championship South West Champions: 2009-10, 2013-14
National Shield Winners: 2017
England Ayoola Erinle England, England Sevens, England Students, Barbarians
England Alec Hepburn England, England U20’s
England Oskar Hirsky-Douglas England Sevens
England Piers O’Connor England U20
Wales Jonah Holmes Wales
England Mark Venner Barbarians
Wales Peter Davies Barbarians
Australia Trevor Walsh Barbarians
England Steve Barnes England Counties
Canada Dave Penny Canada
Canada Kevin Tkachuk Canada
Romania Vlad Dumbrava Romania U20
Italy Tomas Allen Italy
England Rocky Clarke England
England Tamara Taylor England
England Rachel Burford England
England Danielle Waterman England